Compassionate Limits for Your Wounded SelfBy Dr. Margaret Paul
March 20, 2023
When we are acting out in ways that are unloving to us and to others, our wounded self is in charge. How do we stop indulging our wounded self?
Each of us has a wounded part that wants to act out in various addictive and controlling ways. Many of us frequently indulge this part in destructive and self-destructive behaviors - overeating or eating junk food, drinking too much, using drugs, procrastinating, judging ourselves and others, yelling at and blaming others, gambling, acting out sexually - and so on. Often our wounded self seems to be in charge of us, with no loving adult around to set inner limits. Indulging our wounded self is definitely not in our highest good, but what do we do about it?
I've often shared the following true story with my clients:
A woman brought her nine-year-old son to the great psychologist Erickson. Her son was completely out of control - stealing, breaking windows in the neighborhood and at school, and generally terrorizing the neighborhood. His mother had tried everything to gain some control over him, but nothing was working. Erickson told her what to do.
She took her son home and sat on him! She could see the TV, but he couldn't. While she was sitting on him, she kept saying out loud, "The doctor told me that I have to sit on you until I can figure out what to do with you, and I just can't figure it out." She sat on him all day and he could get up only to go to the bathroom, eat and drink water. The next day she sat on him again, repeating what the doctor had told her to say. Finally, in the afternoon of the second day, the boy said, "I know what to do." "You do? What?" said his mother. "Well, I need to give back the things I stole and pay for the windows I broke and stop doing things like that." "What a great idea!" said his mother.
The boy did as he said he would and stopped terrorizing the neighborhood. Finally, someone bigger than him had set limits, which is exactly what he needed. He actually didn't feel safe or loved as long as there was no one limiting his acting-out behavior.
Our inner system is exactly the same.
Our wounded self may seem to be big and out of control, but it's really just a child who needs limits. The only part of us big enough to set these limits and "sit" on this child is our spiritually connected loving adult. We will not have the strength to set loving limits on ourselves by ourselves - we can do it only in connection with the power of our higher power. By ourselves, we are one wounded part trying to control another wounded part, which never works. With spirit, we have the strength and power to set inner limits and follow through on them.
We will never feel safe and loved until we develop a loving adult capable of setting inner limits. As long as we indulge our wounded self in addictive and controlling behavior, we will feel inwardly abandoned and anxious. Our wounded self wants to indulge in substance and process addictions to get love, avoid pain, and try to feel safe, yet the indulging itself causes pain, anxiety, and lack of safety.
Instead of indulging your wounded self, practice sitting on him or her!
The challenge here is in having the loving adult in charge rather than the wounded self. This will occur only through practicing staying connected with your spiritual guidance throughout the day. The more you practice the six steps of Inner Bonding and develop the loving adult, the more power the adult has to limit the actions of the wounded self - who is, after all, just a child trying to be safe. Imagine how safe you would feel if you had a powerful spiritually connected loving adult making the decisions regarding your highest good rather than your wounded self just trying to control!
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Attend to the difference between love and approval. Approval comes and goes, while love is constant. We can manipulate approval by doing things "right" but love from others is always a free gift that is beyond our control. We convinced ourselves that we can have control over getting love, but are you sure this is true?
By Dr. Margaret Paul